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Apple Opposes Britain's New Online Surveillance Bill

| 22 Dec 2015 22:35
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Apple is one of the latest critics of Britain's Investigatory Powers Bill, stating it weakens online security for law-abiding customers.

It wasn't so long ago that we feared private technology companies weren't doing enough to keep private data secure. But lately, more and more tech companies are actually criticizing world governments for the exact same thing. The latest example is none other than iPhone and iPad manufacturer Apple, who openly criticized a bill expanding online surveillance options for British intelligence agencies.

The proposed law is the Investigatory Powers Bill, which has been a topic of some debate since it was released last month. This bill gives intelligence agencies the ability to view browsing histories, intercept communications, and take remote control of computers and smartphones to access data. While intended to track criminal activity, critics believe the bill grants spies far more authority to collect private data than any other Western nation. Yes, including the United States.

So where does Apple fit in here? In a response to a British parliamentary committee, Apple claims the bill would weaken its encryption, encourage interference with Apple products, and force non-UK tech companies to break their home laws. It's also concerned this bill will spark similar legislation in other Western countries. Most importantly, Apple fears any system used to access private data could be accessed by criminals as well.

"We believe it is wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat," Apple said in a statement. "A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too."

To its credit, Apple isn't alone here. Microsoft has also spoken out against Britain's bill, preferring the international community come up with shared solutions. "The legislation must avoid conflicts with the laws of other nations and contribute to a system where likeminded governments work together, not in competition, to keep people more secure," a Microsoft spokeswoman.

The British government claims this bill would not disrupt encryption measures if passed, or put anyone's personal security at risk.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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